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MoneyGram Online Review: Fees, Safety, Alternatives, and Monito's Verdict

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Apr 30, 2021

MoneyGram Online is a good money transfer service (7.6/10) often recommended by Monito's experts for certain transfer types. The second-largest transfer company in the world, MoneyGram has built up a solid reputation (7.6/10), although its pricing isn't entirely transparent. All in all, activating and using an account to transfer money overseas is reasonably easy with MoneyGram Online (7.3/10) on a highly-praised website and mobile app (8.8/10). However, the service's fees and exchange rates are anything but impressive (6.8/10) and seldom the cheapest option, especially for bank transfers.

What Monito Likes About MoneyGram

  • Enormous access to around 200 countries and 50 currencies;
  • Large, reputable company with a long service history;
  • A variety of pay-in options are available (including cash, credit card, bank transfer, etc.).

What Monito Dislikes About MoneyGram

  • Often pricier than specialized money transfer services;
  • Maximum transfer limits are often very low;
  • Around 90% of fees are hidden away in nontransparent margins;
  • Exchange rates displayed on the website can be different from those paid.
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Monito's Recommendation

While a good all-around option for sending money overseas, Monito recommends MoneyGram Online particularly for cash pickup transfers due to the broad scope and fair pricing of these services. If you'd like to transfer to a bank account on the other hand, or if you'd like to discover the best deal, then we'd recommend you run a search on our real-time comparison engine and weigh up your options instead.

Who Is MoneyGram For?

A good option for those who already use the service and who don't mind using a platform that's not always the cheapest one out there, MoneyGram Online is a low-cost and reliable option, especially for cash pickup transfers and increasingly for bank transfers too.

How Monito Reviewed MoneyGram's Services

As with all services reviewed by Monito, MoneyGram Online underwent a rigorous evaluation to assess the quality of its service. To begin with, our experts opened a MoneyGram account to test out its functionalities, including the ease of registration and speed of transferring money, which provided a well-rounded overview of the platform's strengths and limitations. Next, we weighed this score against several other key criteria, including customer reviews, percentage of fees constituted by exchange rate margins, pay-in options, access to customer service, as well as business and legal metrics such as volume transferred, appropriate authorization, and company size. Finally, we analyzed nearly 122 thousand searches on Monito's comparison engine to determine how often MoneyGram was the cheapest service and how often it was competitive against its rivals over the past three months, giving a reliable overview of the service's pricing in relation to the market. As with all Monito Scores, MoneyGram's score was peer-reviewed by at least one Monito expert.

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Trust & Credibility

7.6

Background check

MoneyGram International is a publicly traded company, licensed and authorized by the New York State Department of Financial Services in the US and in every region in which it operates globally.

Security & reliability

MoneyGram's platforms are fully secured and use top-notch security protocols, including segregated user accounts and HTTPS.

Company size

A well-established company with a long history, MoneyGram today has more than two thousand employees, 10 million customers, and handles some US$25 billion in transactions every year.

Transparent pricing

MoneyGram is not transparent about its pricing, with some 87% of total fees being buried away in hidden exchange rate margins.

Can I Trust MoneyGram?

Having moved more than US$25 billion in 2020 for around 10 million customers globally, MoneyGram is undoubtedly a trustworthy and credible service when it comes to international money transfers.

MoneyGram International Inc. is a giant multinational company publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market with a US$175 million market capitalization in September 2020. The company, which has over 2500 employees worldwide, has a track record of close to 80 years. It has gone through numerous mergers and acquisitions during this time and has demonstrated significant expertise in the money transfer industry.

MoneyGram has built its reputation through its quality, which provides a convenient and safe way to send money to or from nearly every country in the world. The MoneyGram brand is recognized and trusted globally, thanks in part to its network of agent locations which, apart from Western Union’s, is unmatched by any of its competitors.

Is MoneyGram Safe?

MoneyGram is subject to a wide range of laws and regulations of countries around the world. MoneyGram is licensed in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. In the UK, MoneyGram is licensed as an Authorized Payment Institution under the European Union Payment Services Directive, allowing MoneyGram to provide payment services throughout the European Economic Area.

Many other jurisdictions in which MoneyGram operates impose licensing or other regulatory requirements. These include minimum capital requirements, compliance with operational procedures, agent oversight and maintenance of reserves, and specifically designed to protect consumers’ funds. MoneyGram takes its regulatory compliance very seriously and invests US$50 million a year into its compliance program.

So, is MoneyGram safe to use? Absolutely. MoneyGram couldn’t be the second-largest money transfer provider in the world if it didn’t adequately protect its customers’ funds.

How Transparent Is MoneyGram?

While MoneyGram appears to present its fees and exchange rates in a relatively transparent manner, as a customer, you will, in fact, be left in the dark about the exact amount that you'll end up paying in exchange rate margin fees until the very point of transferring money. This is because the exchange rates that MoneyGram will quote you will only be estimates based on variable exchange rates rather than the actual exchange rate at which you'll be charged.

According to Monito's analysis of MoneyGram's pricing for ten major transfer corridors, some 87% of total fees being buried away in hidden exchange rate margins, meaning that most of its fees are not made public outside of the fine print.

While not fully transparent, this aside, MoneyGram does provide a fair level of explanation for the fees it charges. Furthermore, the company is honest enough to refer to the transfer's final cost as the "Estimated Total Cost" rather than merely the total cost. For these reasons, while MoneyGram would certainly have a lot of work to do to brush up on its overall transparency, all things considered, the service will ultimately give you a fair sense of how much you'll likely end up paying for your transfer, although not necessarily totally accurate.

Service & Quality

7.3

Opening an account

Account registration at MoneyGram Online is a reasonably laborious process, and you'll be required to enter a lot of personal information before making your first transfer.

Making a transfer

Transferring money with MoneyGram Online is simple and straightforward, although you might encounter some regulatory questions along the way.

Contacting support

Customer support features such as a FAQ are available; however, accessing live chat support is only possible if you're making a transfer.

MoneyGram's Service Quality

While transferring money with MoneyGram Online is usually a painless process, you may face some hurdles while signing up for a new account.

What Is MoneyGram?

MoneyGram is the second-largest money transfer service globally. True to its reputability and scope, the extent of MoneyGram's service across the world is very impressive indeed, matched only by its competitor Western Union. Aside from allowing you to exchange the USD for as many as 47 different foreign currencies from thousands of locations globally, MoneyGram also offers the following services:

Bill Payments

MoneyGram’s bill payment service allows you to pay your relatives’ bills or your own from thousands of companies. The service is available in nearly all agent locations across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico and certain agent locations in select countries in Europe and the Caribbean.

Money Orders

Money orders were the first service that MoneyGram offered when it was founded in 1940. While the company still offers this service today, it only represents a small share of their business. The service, which is only available at certain agent locations across the US, is basically a prepaid check which you can deliver by mail or in-person to the recipient.

Mobile Top-Up

MoneyGram lets you top up prepaid mobile phones of more than 350 mobile carriers in over 100 countries worldwide. This is a great way to ensure that you and your relatives abroad can stay in touch. Mobile top-ups are available at MoneyGram agent locations in the US but can be sent online from any country in the world.

MoneyGram App

The MoneyGram app is available on both Google Android and Apple iOS in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The MoneyGram app lets you send money, track past transactions, estimate fees or find agent locations for future transactions, and manage your account. While the app is rated 3.2 / 5 on the Google Play Store, it is only awarded a 1.9 / 5 rating on the Apple App Store due to issues with money transfers made through the MoneyGram app.

Customer support

MoneyGram appears to be very easy to reach by all available metrics when it comes to supporting its customers. The website homepage, for example, provides users with a 'Help' function in the top right of the interface, which easily allows you to access live chat, a fairly detailed FAQ, as well as a contact form that will help you get in touch with MoneyGram assistants via email.

In addition, by and large, customers tend to report a highly responsive team who are ready and able to provide sound feedback and help as needed.

Fees & Exchange Rates

6.8

Transfers to a bank account

MoneyGram was the best deal on around 13% of available Monito searches for bank transfers over the first three months of 2021.

Transfers to cash pick-up

MoneyGram was the best deal on more than a fifth (22%) of available Monito searches for cash pickup transfers over the first three months of 2021.

MoneyGram's Fees & Exchange Rates

MoneyGram Online only sometimes ranks as the cheapest service available for cash pickups and bank transfers, and therefore it isn't usually the best deal. When it comes to fees and exchange rates, you'll encounter the following two costs when making an international money transfer with MoneyGram:

MoneyGram's Service Fees

MoneyGram fees generally vary depending on the amount sent, the send and receive countries, and the payment and receive methods. Here how you can save on fees with MoneyGram:

  • When sending money online with MoneyGram, it’s best to pay by bank transfer if this is available.
  • Sending to a bank account is usually less expensive than sending money for cash pick-up.
  • If you send money to a bank account, it is often cheaper to send it at an agent location than online, regardless of the payment method. Still, fees at agent locations can also vary depending on which location you choose.
  • If you are sending money for cash pick-up, the online service will generally be cheaper than sending money at an agent location, but only if you pay by bank transfer.

MoneyGram's Exchange Rate Margins

MoneyGram applies the standard practice of taking a margin on the exchange rate. That means that the exchange rate offered to MoneyGram customers is not as good as the real mid-market exchange rate, and MoneyGram profits from this difference, known as an exchange rate margin.

While this generally costs you a couple of percentage points of the amount you are sending, the amount you will pay above the mid-market exchange rate can occasionally exceed 5%. Since some money transfer services can offer exchange rates without any margin and save you plenty of money, it’s crucial to always compare all available money transfer services before sending money abroad.

All in all, MoneyGram's fees and exchange rates leave the service only rarely the cheapest provider between countries. According to our analysis, MoneyGram was the cheapest service only 1.85% of the time across over half a million searches on our comparison engine from around the world in September 2020.

Over that same period, the three cheapest services, TransferWiseSkrill, and WorldRemit — who were the cheapest providers globally around 53% of the time — all offer lower exchange rates and fees than does MoneyGram on most corridors.

For example, if you were to send US$2,500 from the United States to the Philippines, you would pay US$58.57 in total fees, and your beneficiary would receive ₱118,290 if you chose to send the money with WorldRemit. If you chose to make the same transfer with MoneyGram, on the other hand, you'd pay a considerably higher US$79.55 in total fees, and your beneficiary would receive only ₱117,274. That's more than a thousand pesos fewer than they'd receive if you'd sent with WorldRemit!

Compare MoneyGram's Fees & Exchange Rates

Customer Satisfaction

8.9

Customer review score

Gleaning 4.1 out of 5 stars from customers on Trustpilot, MoneyGram Online is without a doubt a much-liked money transfer service.

Number of positive reviews

With more than twelve thousand reviewers on Trustpilot awarding four- or five-star to MoneyGram Online, the service is reliable in the eyes of many customers.

Customer Reviews of MoneyGram

MoneyGram Online generally earns very positive reviews from its global base of customers. And, having ironed out many creases in terms of its customer satisfaction over the past few months and years, MoneyGram has come to enjoy an improvement in its reviews from users across the globe.

On both the App Store and Google Play Store, for example, tens of thousands of customers have scored MoneyGram's mobile app with a very high ranking — 4.8 and 4.4 stars out of 5 respectively. Similarly, on the customer review site Trustpilot, customers of MoneyGram have indicated a broad satisfaction with the company's service, with the average ranking being 4 stars out of 5.

Also worthy of note is that MoneyGram very frequently responds to negative reviews written by customers. This very likely indicates a genuine willingness to accommodate feedback and help its users. Take a look at the frequently-mentioned pros and cons that are mentioned about MoneyGram, according to its customers:

Positive

  • Customers liked the fact that the money was available in minutes at the receiving end of the money transfer;
  • Friendly and helpful telephonic assistance;
  • Easy to use the web and mobile apps.

Negative

  • Some customers have seen their transferred cancelled and had problem to get their money back;
  • Negative experiences with customer service-little support or dedicated, personal service;
  • Customers had problems using their online service;
  • Some were annoyed by the verification process to identify themselves (which MoneyGram is required to perform by law).

Note: MoneyGram is not inviting its users to share their experience with Trustpilot which could partially explain the extremely high proportion of bad ratings. The rating might not be representative due to the low number of reviews.

How MoneyGram Works

  • Step 01

    Check MoneyGram's Rates

    Use Monito's comparison engine to see how MoneyGram’s fees and exchange rates weigh up against the rest and make sure they are indeed the cheapest option for your international money transfer. There, you'll be able to discover both the cheapest ways to fund your transfer and have the money received.

  • Step 02

    Open a MoneyGram Account

    You can sign up for MoneyGram Online on the web or using the mobile app using your email address. You’ll need to provide MoneyGram with your full name, residential address, mobile phone number, country of birth, and date of birth.

  • Step 03

    Verify Your Identity

    If you’d like to transfer over a threshold limit (e.g. US$900), you’ll be required to verify your identity regardless of your payment method. To do this, start the verification process when prompted and follow the instructions to scan and submit your valid photo ID. Take note that, depending on the amount you send, you may be questioned about your occupation in order to verify your identity.

  • Step 04

    Set Up Your Money Transfer

    After you’re signed in, you’ll be able to set up a new transfer by entering how much you’d like to send, your destination country and currency, and after clicking ‘Estimate Fees,’ you’ll also be able to specify your payment method and your beneficiary’s receiving method. You may be asked additional questions about your occupation, source of funds, relationship to the receiver, the purpose of your transaction, and your country of citizenship

  • Step 05

    Add Your Beneficiary

    Next, you’ll be directed the ‘Receiver Information’ section where you’ll need to specify your beneficiary’s full name and bank information. If you’re sending money within the Eurozone, you'll need your recipient's IBAN in addition to their SWIFT/BIC code and their bank’s name.

  • Final step

    Review and Pay

    Having added your beneficiary, the final step will be to enter your payment details in the ‘Payment Information’ section. This will include an option to enter you card details if you chose to pay by card, or it will show the bank details of the bank account to which you should send your money if you chose to pay by bank transfer.

Frequently Asked Questions About MoneyGram

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